Did you know that my own reluctant, struggling writer is the real face behind WriteShop?
The Boy Who Couldn’t
My son Ben (and Debbie‘s son Brian) were buddies before they even started kindergarten. They were peas in a pod: fidgety, kinesthetic, active, smart little guys!
But unlike their older sisters, they didn’t catch on to reading and writing.
Deb and I each had our own methods, products, and ways of approaching these subjects—yet we both struggled to help our boys make progress toward independence. We started and stopped, started and stopped, seeing little fruit.
Has this ever happened to you?
Thinking Outside the Box
Ben had no lack of words or ideas, but he had a hard time holding a pencil (or sitting still, for that matter). Rather than keep waiting until that magical day when he could write the words down by himself, I let him dictate as I wrote.
This was long before I’d ever heard of Charlotte Mason or narration. But it just made sense that if he couldn’t write on his own, all his great ideas would just smolder inside his busy little brain.
I wanted those thoughts to burst into flame! So having him dictate his stories and short reports to me (with lots of prodding, prompting, and questions on my part) was key for us, as it allowed him not only to make up stories, but to express his knowledge and understanding of the different things we were studying.
By the time our boys were 12, however, Debbie and I had become more desperate to see some independence in this area. Allowing them to narrate was all good and well, but they really needed to develop personal writing skills too.
We had no idea what we were doing, but figuring it could only help, we committed to teach a writing class for a handful of homeschoolers our boys’ ages. At first, we drew from a variety of writing materials to teach our students, but to our dismay, they still had trouble putting cohesive thoughts on paper. Clearly, something had to change! Armed with goals and ideas, Deb and I began creating our own lessons. Imagine our joy when all the children—not just our own boys—began to write with improved content and style.
Clinging to Hope
Our girls were intuitive writers, easy to guide and easy to teach. But we didn’t have much faith that our reluctant 12-year-old sons would be able to write. Our journey was hard, and we experienced more than our share of frustration. But diligence paid off. Today, Brian is a high-achieving sergeant in the US Army, and Ben has earned a Ph.D. How thankful we are that our exploration of new ideas—coupled with time, patience, trial and error—kept us on the path and allowed our sons to blossom and mature in their own time.
Some of you are just starting your journey. You can’t even begin to imagine that one day your struggling writer will come up with an articulate, coherent thought on his own.
If you’re feeling anxious, take heart. You can learn to teach your children that writing is more than random thoughts tossed onto paper. You can help them learn to use important tools that lay a foundation for future writing—writing that will take shape and mature as their knowledge, life experiences, vocabulary, and thinking skills develop.
I’m glad you’re here. And when you feel frustrated, remember that I walked that path too. I hope you can take encouragement from my story that a great deal can—and will—happen between now and adulthood!
Do you have a struggling writer? What’s your story? I’d love to hear it.
Photo credits: Karah Fredricks (“Discouraged”). Used by permission.
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